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Aiming to defeat Democrat Harry Reid, the GOP's Sharron Angle glad-hands at a Reno gun show

The recent Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Reno was essentially a well-armed swap meet, with tables shilling semiautomatic pistols, holsters, camouflage baby clothes and T-shirts asking, “Got Bullets?” (That was somewhat a rhetorical question – one business touted itself as “Your 1-Stop Assault Shop.”)

Volunteers for Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle sat next to a table of T-shirts urging voters to “Ready, Aim, Fire” her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as well as fellow party leaders, including President Obama. The vendor, Dave Hart, was not affiliated with Angle's campaign.

"I’m going to be following you like a bad dream," Hart, a 54-year-old Californian, told Angle. Reid “is very powerful. He’s not what this country needs, and we need you to make sure he doesn’t continue down this path.”

It was difficult to hear Angle’s response over the stun-gun demonstrations. She asked for money.

I watched the 61-year-old Angle mingle with the faithful for an article in Thursday’s print paper about her slow-starting campaign against Reid. Like many Western politicians, Reid is pro-gun enough that some have speculated he might win the endorsement of the NRA.

But Angle, who has talked of fed-up voters resorting to “2nd Amendment remedies” should Congress not change hands, is pictured in her campaign newsletter aiming a Smith and Wesson. When her ...

... husband, Ted, asked a group of attendees if they had questions regarding her views on firearms, none needed to ask.

“She’s 2nd Amendment all the way!” shouted her 72-year-old friend, Sally Shaw of Reno.

In traditionally low-turnout midterm elections, rallying the base is key and, on this afternoon, Angle exuded a comfort level unseen since her primary victory. In her entire political career, Angle has never needed to appeal to a statewide general electorate. Judging by her warm demeanor and lack of entourage, the gun show felt familiar.

A petite grandmother with a reddish bob, Angle worked the Reno convention center in a blue-green pantsuit and open-toed heels. No firearm was visible. The crowd was overwhelmingly friendly, and the scene far removed from the Washington Beltway. 

Prohibited items: loaded firearms, loose ammunition, black powder and “items glorifying Nazism,” according to the Crossroads website. “Laser scopes may only be operated by vendors and only pointed at the ceiling.”

Over a half-hour, Angle thanked two men for their “entrepreneurial spirit” -- they were selling, essentially, day planners-cum-weapon carriers. One supporter handed Angle hot sauce. Another asked, hopefully, if she was single.

Angle laughed, her husband trailing behind her with a stack of donation envelopes.

A voter of mixed-race descent complained that he was sick of being asked whether he’s African American. “As our senator, make me an American, please,” he said, using language often heard at “tea party” rallies.

“I just did,” Angle said, to bystanders’ cheers.

Despite their affection, Angle’s supporters were clearly concerned about the battering she’d taken in Reid's campaign ads, which capitalized on her more controversial statements, portraying her as “just too extreme.” (The latest ad, released Wednesday, goes after Angle’s “2nd Amendment remedies” comment. )

The race, once a likely Republican win, is now considered a tossup.

Stan Duran told Angle she needed to punch back hard. “Don’t you have a research staff that could go through every single thing he’s ever done?” the Reno man asked, and, until recently, the answer would have been no. But Duran didn’t help much, offering a convoluted theory involving Reid, the “milk lobby” and starving babies. Angle’s smile remained polite.

Reid has also attacked Angle on Social Security. Although she talked about phasing out the program during the primary, she has since softened her stance. After she made her way to a microphone to announce her presence – to applause – a throng of attendees crowded her to weigh in.

“I’m concerned about those lies about Social Security,” one man said.

“Newspapers are going broke because they lie!” interjected a woman.

Angle reassured them that her campaign was running its own TV ads hammering Reid on the dismal economy. “We’re going after him more,” she vowed.

“Are you going to have someone on the phone saying, 'Hey, I heard this, what’s the truth?” the man shot back.The polite smile returned.

As Angle and her husband left the gun show, reporters tried to sneak in some questions. Angle reiterated her position on Social Security -- that younger workers should “personalize” their retirement accounts -- and that Washington’s role was only to create a job-friendly climate, not the jobs themselves.

Then, because Angle had been campaigning at a gun show, I asked for an explanation of the meaning of “2nd Amendment remedies.” The polite smile, but no answer.

-- Ashley Powers

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Wow, if she keeps campaigning like this, she'll get every vote she got in the Republican primary. And lose.

Anything to remove Harry Reid from office. He has to go, the sooner the better. Angle can't possibly be any worse than that buffoon.

Maybe you understand why Angle won't give an interview to reporters...after this negative article. Honest journalism is dead. Angle will defeat Reid in November and Reid is concerned. It will be a sad day for Harry.
Liberal and progressive newspapers and politicians will all go the way of destruction for their deception.
I gave you an interview in good faith and this is what you come up with? Sally Shaw

Not one--SINGLE--word about E-Verify in the dialogue from Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano at her press interview in Washington today. E-Verify is by far the most important tool in immigration enforcement, that could disgorge illegal aliens from the workplace. Beginning with the 8.5 million illegal persons asserted by FAIR, in there analysis now physically hired in the labor pool nationwide. This is when millions of Americans don't have full time jobs, which are grossly unfair and incomprehensible that both parties have not forced through E-Verify auditing. Every conceivable business must have E-verify established in human resources and a verification system in post offices and public buildings with this program to detect illegal workers. A Permanent E-Verify would now be enforced, with agonizing penalties for defiant business owners. THE FACT IS IF NO JOBS ARE AVAILABLE, THE ILLEGAL WORKERS WILL LEAVE AND GO HOME. Sen. Harry Reid incapacitated E-Verify a unique confirmation program, limiting it to the employers’ discretion of using the computer program or not? THAT’S WHY SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV) MUST BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE.

Billions of Dollars are spent on fighting foreigners wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but our protection is only $600.000 on trying to seal our border. Its a pretty good start but not enough. There wouldn't have been any anxiety about border protection, if the government had built the--REAL--double fences as stipulated in the 2006 Secure fence Act. Instead it was compromised by Sen. Harry Reid and two Texas politicians, who purposely underfunded it through Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations bill and cut it back to only one fence. Upon analysis if the two individual barriers were built as guaranteed, Arizona would not be sued and illegal aliens would not be flooding through breeches on the nation border. Until the politicians in Washington, uphold a serious commitment to building the--REAL--fence(s), and not half-hearted attempt in misleading the American public. There will not be any form of immigration reform, if anti-amnesty organizations can stop its course? That first and foremost should be the REAL BORDER FENCE(S)


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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